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Being Thankful

Heart attack puts life into perspective

by Published: Nov 20, 2013

(From left) Jacob Hamlin, Brandon Aube, Tyler Hanson and Anthony Kupser surround their friend Taylor Pike (center) at TNT Gym where he had a heart attack in October. Pike, who isn’t back in the gym yet, is thankful for the support of his friends and family during his recovery.  Photo By: Melanie Ronquillo | Photographer

(From left) Jacob Hamlin, Brandon Aube, Tyler Hanson and Anthony Kupser sur­round their friend Taylor Pike (cen­ter) at TNT Gym where he had a heart attack in October. Pike, who isn’t back in the gym yet, is thank­ful for the sup­port of his friends and fam­ily dur­ing his recov­ery.
Photo By: Melanie Ronquillo | Photographer

This year, junior pre-pharmacy major Taylor Pike is more thank­ful than ever to spend the hol­i­days with his family.

Three weeks ago, Pike’s heart stopped while he was work­ing out with a group of friends at TNT Gym, located in down­town Big Rapids. Doctors said he was “dead” for nearly four min­utes, accord­ing to Pike.

“Never did I ever think I would have a heart prob­lem,” he said.

The group’s work­out on Oct. 28 started out like any other after­noon at the gym with Pike pump­ing iron on the bench press. After fin­ish­ing his sets, he stood up and got a drink of water. Pike can’t remem­ber what hap­pened next.

The next mem­ory Pike has is talk­ing to his work­out bud­dies who came to visit him in the hos­pi­tal two days later.

Criminal jus­tice sopho­more Anthony Kupser recalled Pike walk­ing over to the cable machine to set up for the next exer­cise. The next thing he knew, his friend was slumped against a pole and unconscious.

“A bunch of peo­ple around saw him and thought that he had popped his shoul­der out of place,” Kupser said. “He was kind of stress­ing on it, and then all of a sud­den, he just dropped. Everyone was freak­ing out.”

Bystanders, includ­ing Det. Sgt. Casey Nemeth, jumped into action imme­di­ately. Gym owner Jeff Tift called 911 while Pike’s friends searched for his EpiPen. If trig­gered, Pike’s severe peanut allergy can cause sim­i­lar symptoms.

Nemeth told the Pioneer Pike “was out of it, his face was pur­ple, lips were blue and he had no heartbeat.”

Another bystander, Tara Diem, started chest com­pres­sions but Pike still wasn’t breath­ing, accord­ing Kupser.

Big Rapids Department of Public Safety first respon­ders soon arrived. Diem con­tin­ued CPR while Capt. Randy Bell, a DPS fire­fighter, pre­pared the LUCAS 2, a battery-powered CPR device.

The device was pur­chased in October and Pike’s inci­dent was the first time DPS had used the LUCAS 2 in an emer­gency situation.

The LUCAS 2 Chest Compression System admin­is­ters unin­ter­rupted com­pres­sions at a con­sis­tent rate and depth to facil­i­tate the return of spon­ta­neous cir­cu­la­tion. While the aver­age per­son can only give com­pres­sions for two min­utes, the LUCAS 2 can go on indefinitely.

An ambu­lance took Pike to Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital, and he was later trans­ferred to Spectrum Health Hospital in Grand Rapids where sur­geons installed an implantable car­dioverter defibrillator.

Today, Pike is “try­ing to get back to nor­mal” but tires easily.

Although Pike’s mother and doc­tors wanted him to rest at home, Pike returned to school to fin­ish out the semester.

“I’m kind of killing it in organic chem­istry, and I didn’t want to give that up,” he said.

As much as he enjoys school, Pike “can’t wait to go to town on all the food” and is look­ing for­ward to some down­time over the hol­i­day breaks with family.

“I took it a lit­tle bit too much for granted,” he said. “Now, it’s some­thing I really cher­ish. I feel really thank­ful to be alive and able to see everyone.”